Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
Gotta Stand Up To Start Moving Forward?
Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2006 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.
According to some estimates, every six months in the Bay Area, I've made some new amazing friend whom I am now leaving behind. I arrived in August of 1998 and met Seth; most recently (basically) Eric. He lent me Daniel R. Headrick's Tentacles of Progress, about the infrastructure that empires lay down in conquered lands.
The Fashoda incident of 1898 (see Chapter 4), which had only a temporary impact on international diplomacy, was the turning point for Dakar. In response to the British threat, France decided to build a harbor in West Africa for its cruisers, submarines, and torpedo boats. The project took ten years and cost 21 million francs (£ 840,000). Deep dredging, over 2 kilometers of new breakwaters, and a dry dock made it a harbor fit for cruisers. By 1908 Dakar was the finest naval base between Cape Town and Gibraltar.
This passage struck me. The leaders of France made hard decisions and plans, and ten years later they had an awesome artifact and tool. They made their bet and won.
I've been afraid to bet. I've been loathe to predict or plan, to even cautiously strategize a career or make any long-term commitments. And now I'm locked in for the next three years. I've discarded other options and shaken off paralysis.
If you could save your mother, but at the cost of killing your father, would you do so? What if the situation were reversed? What if your great aunt would die, but your father would live, but he would have cancer, but that cancer would go be cured by a doctor, but that doctor eventually creates a supervirus which wipes out 1/3 of the Earth's population. Would you date that doctor?
I can't live like that anymore, second-guessing every move.
Joe is one of the friends I'm going to miss. Last night we saw a whole show of good comedy, in which none of the four comics disappointed; how often does that happen? It started with stand-up and so it shall end.
San Francisco's Bay Area was the first place I chose to move, and the first place where I made myself a home. Now it's the first place I'm leaving completely on my own. From November of 2002: Sumana stands up.